E&E Community News | St Thomas – Spring [Deep] Clean

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10 March 2016

E&E Community News | St Thomas – Spring [Deep] Clean

A part of St Thomas is due to have an early spring clean.

In response to local concerns from residents, local councillors have been able to confirm areas that are to get a deep  by the City Council this year.

The areas currently on the list are Old Vicarage Road, Tin Lane , Powderham Road, Shaftesbury Road , Duckworth Road , Barton Road through to the Cowick Street entrance, Church Path Road, Holland Road, Parkhouse Road, Coleridge Road, Churchill Road , and the rear of Cowick Lane that backs on to the terraced areas.

The clean up time will run from Monday the 14th March to Thursday 24th March 2016 and focus primarily on those roads that have been so far identified.

Local councillor Paul Bull said: “This was one of the main issues that we picked up locally after listening to local people in this part of St Thomas, so we wanted to get these areas on the list for action , especially as many of the back alleys are getting very grubby , weeds need pulling , and there is some general dumping and litter, and we are regularly getting complaints.

“We will look to putting out a local street letter to the effected properties ahead of the allotted time to help raise awareness.”

Cllr Hannaford added: “it will be really good to get some spring cleaning done at these locations.

“It’s been a rough old wet winter and the mild weather has meant that many of the weeds have not died back as usual so, with all the high winds and storms, they will have been a magnet for litter blowing around.

“Also many people in these terraced areas actually use their back alleys a lot for access, for example taking the dogs for a walk, so it’s really important they are kept clear nd clean”

If residents would like more information , or suggest other areas in St Thomas that need attention, please email cllr.paul.bull@exeter.gov.uk , rob.hannaford@devon.gov.uk  and cllr.hannah.packham@exeter.gov.uk.

E&E Community News | St Thomas – Local Grants

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10 March 2016

E&E Community News | St Thomas – Local Grants

During the current financial year , St Thomas Cllrs Hannah Packham and Rob Hannaford have agreed the following community grants for local groups and residents.

St Thomas Methodist Church: £300 for raised beds.

St Thomas Bowling Club: £200 for a new hot water urn .

Pinces Garden: £300 for a Garden Party this coming May.

Pinces Gardens Bowling Club: £300 for new crockery and folding tables.

Age UK: £225 towards a Dementia allotment project.

The Bloom’In St Thomas Group: £300 for new wildflower plantings.

St Thomas Allotment Association: £100 towards new notice boards

Cllr Packham said: “ It’s been great to use these local grants in St Thomas for a range of very worthwhile projects.

“It often means that when an issue arises , or a piece of equipment goes wrong , we can be proactive straight away.

“For many small organisations relying on volunteers, grants up to three hundred pounds can make a big difference.

“Where some local projects serve more than one ward , we can on occasions agree cluster funding from several ward budgets. Please keep coming forward to us with your ideas , projects and suggestions”

Fellow St Thomas Cllr Rob Hannaford , who originally set up these grants when he was the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Communities, added: “These delegated ward grants that all City Councillors have each year do a huge amount of good positive work across the whole city , that often add value to the grass roots fund raising efforts by volunteers.

“Over many years we have always made full use of them in and around St Thomas.

“This includes supporting all sorts of charities , church groups , community organisations , and sports clubs.”

Cllr Hannaford added: “Another important element to the grants is providing local ward members with an important tool in fulfilling their leadership role of local community champions.

“This work is very important at the moment , with public sector cuts and reducing central government funding , in that we work with local people to achieve sustainable projects  and generally promote resilience.“

The recent budget setting meeting at the City Council confirmed that each of the new three member wards will have £3,000 each.

If people would like information , guidance , or to make an application. they are encouraged to make contact with their local councillors , or Dawn Rivers, the Community Involvement and Inclusion Officer at the City Council, who can be emailed at  dawn.rivers@exeter.gov.uk .

E&E | Last-ditch attempt to save patrols

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25 February 2016

Last-ditch attempt to save patrols

By Anita Merritt

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Lollipop protest outside County Hall

An 11th hour bid to save Devon’s school crossing patrollers has been launched.

Parents, grandparents and anyone who wants to see the continuation of what is regarded as a vital and life-saving service in Devon, is being asked to contact councillor John Hart, the leader of Devon County Council, by phone or email before it is too late.

The Heart to Hart campaign has been launched by school crossing patroller campaigners and is being backed by Cllr Alan Connett, Liberal Democrat group leader on Devon County Council.

He said: “My call would be for every parent, grandma and grandad in Devon to email Cllr Hart and say they want to keep our school crossing patrollers.

“They can also contact their local conservative councillors as they are the ones who voted to cut the service.

“This is our 11th hour chance to save school crossing patrollers. When they’re gone they’re gone.”

Cllr Connett said he was concerned not much money would be saved if the council has to spend out on traffic islands or alternative safety management outside schools. He added he was also worried parents would no longer feel it was safe for their older children to walk to school which would increase traffic on Devon’s roads and impact on children’s health by being driven to school instead of walking.

“The decision is a false economy,” he said. “Labour put forward a different proposal, as did the Independents and Liberal Democrats. We could have found the money for it.”

At last week’s meeting, the majority of councillors voted in favour of Cllr Hart’s recommendation to approve the budget for 2016/17, which excluded funding for school lollipop patrollers. A further debate of the service will take place at the council’s scrutiny committee meeting on Monday, 07 March.

Overwhelming opposition from schools, councillors and the public – along with three petitions with one signed by more than 1,000 people – failed to sway the mind of Devon County Council in its mission to save £250,000 a year from its budget.

Under the new proposals, school patrollers will be employed by a third party that would deliver the service on a full-cost recovery or commercial basis.

If schools decide not to fund the cost of their patrol, the alternatives are for it to be run by volunteers or to lose the service.

To make sure the service continues to be delivered safely, the council says it is prepared to continue a degree of support such as establishing and monitoring quality standards, providing training and doing risk assessments.

Save our school lollipop patrollers campaigner Marie Leverett, a mum from Stoke Hill, Exeter, said: “I sincerely hope the County Council will reconsider it’s position at the scrutiny committee on 07 March, and take some time to think through the ramifications of this ludicrous budget cut in the short, medium and long term.”

At last week’s full council meeting, Cllr Hart said: “It’s not an easy decision to make but I think it’s the right decision for us to take.”

To join the Heart to Hart campaign, send an email to Cllr Hart asking to save Devon’s school lollipop patrollers at john.hart@devon.gov.uk or call him on 01752 403554.

E&E | Exeter aims to bring more rough sleepers in from the cold

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21 November 2015

Exeter aims to bring more rough sleepers in from the cold

New steps are being taken to help bring Exeter’s rough sleepers in from the cold.

Exeter City Council is gearing up to the winter with an action plan to which will see 26 spaces to accommodate rough sleepers from December 1 to February 28 – , including specific provision for women.

The City Council is working in partnership with a number of groups including the police and St Petrock’s to offer a safe place to sleep for those with no other options available.

Since 2010 there has been a yearly increase in the numbers of people rough sleeping in England. In Exeter last year there was an increase of 48per cent.

City Council Leader, Pete Edwards, said: “‘We are committed to reversing this trend by tackling the causes of homelessness and rough sleeping, although it will be an ongoing challenge.

“We recognise that many people who are homeless have complex issues. We are trying to work creatively with partner agencies to offer a safe place to sleep and the right support to get people through the winter.”

Agencies will work together with the homeless, focussing on longer term plans, and in a specific place rather than trying to meet up on the street.

It is hoped that this will help those who may have refused to ‘come inside’ and help manage anti-social behaviour within the city. Clients with no local connection will be offered reconnection services so that the provision is linked to local demand.

The project includes support alongside a place to sleep with the intention of being able to offer as many ongoing accommodation placements as possible by the end of February.

#Theatre4Exeter | The Boat Shed – a new theatre for the Quay

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The article Boat Shed: Plans for £4m theatre and nightspot at Exeter Quay [E&E, 09 July 2015] unveils the ambitious plans to turn derelict MacLaines Warehouses at Exeter Quay into a £4m creative space, which will include a new theatre, live music hall, cafe/bar, bakery and indoor market.

Firstly, I must declare an interest. I am a member of the Board of the Bike Shed Theatre – a position I hold as much because I’m a theatre practitioner (in my free time I am a freelance theatre sound designer) as well as being an ECC councillor.

Secondly, I do NOT see this an alternative to any plans to come forward from the Theatre For Exeter Development Group for a theatre in the city centre.

Thirdly, the business plan takes into consideration the financial reality of the current political climate – and seeks to maximise earned income rather than expecting government subsidy. That said, there is the hope of securing investment from three main funders: Heritage Lottery Fund, the European Regional Development Fund and Arts Council England. We’ll also expect to raise smaller amounts from trusts and foundations, local businesses and generous individuals.

McLaine's Warehouse in 1870
MacLaine’s Warehouse in 1870

David Lockwood, Director of The Bike Shed Theatre explains the plans…

Two years ago, I was shown around the empty warehouses that used to house the Maritime Museum down on Exeter’s quay. The intention had been to find a site for the Bike Shed to move in the Summer months when people don’t want to be down in a cellar so much. Two things immediately became apparent:

  • it would take a huge amount of time, effort and money to get these spaces open for a pop-up Summer retreat;
  • if you were willing to spend the time, effort and money, you’d be able to create something phenomenal and unique for the city.

Since then, we’ve been dreaming about what we could do with the building and for the last nine months we’ve been working with some brilliant people. including the leading international theatre architects Haworth Tompkins, to present a feasibility study to the owners of the building, Exeter Canal and Quay Trust. On the 6th July, we presented our plans.

Our intention is that the building will include:

  • a 250-seat flexible theatre;
  • a smaller double-height space for comedy and live music;
  • a cafe, bar and bakery;
  • an indoor market for local craft, design, food and drink;
  • co-working space and studios for creative companies;
  • rehearsal rooms;
  • space for outreach and education work.

We want to create a space that is more than just a theatre. In fact, more than just a traditional arts space. We’re keen to have a sense of openness between the performance spaces, creative working areas and social parts of the building. Our aim is that the new space – provisionally called The Boat Shed – will be accessible to all, a creative and social part of civic life for all curious enough to want to pay a visit.

new-building

So where now? We’ve kindly been given two years by Exeter Canal and Quay Trust to start raising the funds needed to convert the space. Whilst we’re doing this, we’re keen to show people around the building and are inviting ideas from the public. We’ll update you regularly with news of our progress and opportunities to come and view the space.

Normally at the start of a capital project, you’d be asked for money. But at this stage we’d rather have your ideas. So if there’s anything you’d like to see in the space – however boring or outrageous – please get in touch. I’m on davidlockwood@bikeshedtheatre.co.uk. I look forward to hearing from you.

Read more about the plans for The Boat Shed as an engine room of creativity planned for Exeter’s historic Quayside.


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David, and all at the Bike Shed

David Lockwood
David Lockwood

#Theatre4Exeter | An ‘iconic’ building on site of Bus Station

I have been in long-term correspondence over the Exeter City Council’s ‘iconic’ building on the site of the Bus and Coach Station…here’s the latest instalment.

I hope that these discussion help you realise that the decision over the future direction of the Bus & Coach Station development site is much more considered than many people realise.

If you have been following the story closely, you will know that the option to develop the site was awarded to Land Securities and Crown Estate back 2010.

Under the deal,  Land Securities would  draw up proposals for the site  and would be granted a long- term lease by the Council, which  would still own the freehold.

The developer would then pay  for the redevelopment of the site  and lease units to retailers.  Land Securities will now draw  up a feasibility plan and the Council will have the final say  on any proposals.

SEE: Land Securities seal Exeter bus station deal (WMN, 17 March 2014)

Of course this was under the previous LD administration when Leader Adrian Fullam had a letter in the E&E City centre theatre idea is unrealistic (15 March 2010).

Most of his comments then are still valid now.

As a consequence of the recent article in the E&E (“New bus station site plans are due within weeks” 13 June 2015), you highlight 4 points

1) The plans are expected to include a multi-screen cinema
As Adrian pointed out back in 2010, Land Securities are “Land Securities is a commercial company”. The same is true of their successors on the project, TIAA Henderson Real Estate.

They are now responsible for regenerating the current Bus & Coach Station site – they are investing £70m in the project – of course, they will be expecting to make a  substantial return.

The terms of their option gives them full control (subject to the usual planning restrictions) to make best use of that land as they see fit.

As to whether a multiplex is finally delivered on the emerging site is simply a matter of economics.

Each and every one of the 3 multi-screen cinemas operates on a commercial basis – if not, they would close down.

I am assuming that TH Real Estate and Crown Estate have had the relevant conversations with a cinema chain and/or independent and reckon they can get a financial return on delivering a new cinema on this site.

2) It is understood that a new swimming pool is needed to replace the Pyramids.
To be clear the leisure complex is going to much more than a swimming pool, it will have gym and other facilities – more details from Exeter Active, and you see outline details of the building design on Gale and Snowden’s Swim4Exeter page.

Initial design drawing [Gale and Snowden]
Initial design drawing [Gale and Snowden]

As it stands, the research and business case shows that the new leisure complex will NOT be an Olympic-sized pool. I’ve tried swimming in Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh and it really is daunting.

I am really exciting that this ‘iconic’ building can be built to PassivHaus standards.

I for one would be seriously worried if the new leisure centre were located at one of the suggested alternatives – Arena Park. Many bus route have been threatened by withdrawal of services and I fear that this situation will only get worse in the future.

I want a facility that is easily accessible to all – not just those that can rely on private car use.

I haven’t got the actual usage details of Riverside to hand, but a report to Scrutiny – Economy in January 2014 reported an INCREASE of 44,000 customers at Riverside Leisure Centre in comparison to year one, and a significant rise at the Pyramids Swimming Centre with an increase of 29,000.

I haven’t seen the documents that outline the projected use of the new complex of 500k to 1m (New Exeter swimming pool will ‘attract a million visitors a year’, council claims E&E 19 March 2015), but let’s remember we are talking about visits to the gym and other facilities as well as swimmers.

And to put that in to some perspective – if Theatre Royal Plymouth were open to provide 9 performance a week, there would be an audience of some 1500 (in the 2 venues) per performance, that’s 13,000 each week and totaling 702,000.

But I would once more reiterate that each visitor to Exeter’s Leisure Complex would bring in an income to the Council.

Currently, TRP is a National Portfolio Organisation [NPO] of Arts Council England [ACE] and receives funding to the tune of £1,185,500 – this is committed for the next 3 years. Note I use the phrase committed, rather than guaranteed, as ACE have have stated this could be reviewed if they themselves receive cuts in Government funding.

For your information, the following Exeter-based Theatre Companies receive annual NPO funding from ACE:
Bikeshed – £75k
Northcott – 125k
Alibi – £241k
Kaleider – £110k
and Exeter Phoenix is an NPO for Combined Arts – £125k

As I’ve mentioned in previous correspondence, I think that a new theatre venture in Exeter would be very unlikely to attract such significant funding from ACE.

In addition to susbisdy from ACE,  TRP currently enjoys revenue grant support of £665,000 from Plymouth City Council. The freehold of the Theatre Royal Plymouth (built in 1982) is owned by PCC and let to the operator at a peppercorn rent.

The reality is that a new theatre would cost residents for each and every seat sold.

As a city cllr, I am committed to retaining as much of the current green open space as possible, and any building on the site of Belmont Park would reduce the capacity available for events such as Exeter Respect.

The amphitheatre is an open space within the new development that I would imagine would be used for ad hoc events and informal gatherings (even a new location for the Farmers’ Market?) – rather in the way that Coventry’s Millenium Square is used – rather than for formal money-making initiatives.

3) No reference is made to building a much-needed theatre
I think that in my previous thoughts I have taken issue with this view – the theatre is desired but there is no NEED.

I will admit that’s my view – but with over 5 years of active doorstep work within Cowick, I can honestly say the issue of city centre theatre has been raised with me ONCE. I can take you to the resident, it was so memorable.

I see constant letters from the same people regularly appearing in the E&E expressing their desire, I understand the economic benefits if a city centre theatre, I want “the arts and culture an economic driver of the growth of the city”.

It’s just my view of theatre differs from yours. That’s why I do back the desire of the Theatre For Exeter Development Group to carry out a full feasibility study for the project.  What I’m not prepared to so is fully fund that study – and I believe the T4E Development Group aren’t expecting the City Council to do so.

I would be willing to place a bet – that the feasibility study would find that the financial case for a 1200 seat theatre capable to presenting Number One tours (those seen at TRP) will not stack up.

And I’m willing to place a second one – that a 800-900 seater theatre would be financially viable.

What do I do then?

Ignore the study and plump for the unsustainable venue you want, or the one that we can afford and support?

At the meeting of Exeter Civic Society where the T4E Development Group came into being, there were many who mourned the loss of the resident Artistic Director and repertory nature of the programme at the Northcott.

I have high hopes that the appointment of Paul Jepson up on the hill will start to address these issues – and I feel that his plans will be much more than “developing local production in co-operation with Exeter University”.

You also make mention of parking at the University – there is NO shortage of car parking spaces, albeit a couple of minutes walk away from the theatre. There is also a useful bus service that runs the city centre (and to my home in Heavitree). It is certainly much more accessible to the city centre than Warwick Arts Centre is to Coventy.

The future of the current Pyramids site is still to be decided – I personally would like this to be a major music venue like the Academy chain seen around the country – but I fear I, too, will be disappointed!

You bring back the 1962 closure of the old Theatre Royal – there has been a replacement for this – the Northcott. That was the legacy I inherited when I joined the council in 2011 – I wish different decisions had been taken back then, but they weren’t. We have to progress from where we are now,

Funding cannot be redirected from the ‘unnecessary” cinema no funding from ECC is  being directed there – as I explained earlier, that’s a commercial decision for TH Real Estates and Crown Estates.

The “unnecessary” amphitheatre is something I desire, and have fought hard to retain in the plans – once again there is NO ECC funding for this

Can I refer you to the Bus and Coach Station Development Principles from June 2012 which outlines desires for this sort of  space to be delivered.

4) The City Council must be aware that the small shops are steadily closing in the city
Yet I see thriving independent shops along Paris Street – The Real Food Store (declaration of interest, I’m a minor shareholder), Jelly, The Sandwich Shop, the gift shop (UPDATE: Hyde & Seek!) – and I for one want to see this independent network retained and grown once the new development comes to fruition.

As I say, I’ve given it a lot of thought, as have many of my colleagues.

I’m sure we’ll correspond more once the planning application for TH Real Estates and Crown Estates is lodged with ECC.

Some thoughts on Tony Hogg’s comments about pavement parking

Cllr Paul Bull with an end of Pavement Parking sign
Cllr Paul Bull with an End of Pavement Parking sign (Diagram P667.2)

As someone has long been concerned about pavement parking, it is good news that Tony Hogg, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon & Cornwall has come out with strong comments on the issue [Parking on Exeter pavements is ‘inconsiderate’ says police boss Tony Hogg E&E 23 June 2015].

It concerns me because it makes life difficult for many – pedestrians with mobility issues, those with visual impairments, users wheelchair and mobility scooters, and parents with buggies and pushchairs among them.

The article highlights section 30 of Exeter City Council Act 1987 which prohibits the parking of vehicles on verges, central reservations and footways.

s30 of Exeter Act 1987
s30 of Exeter Act 1987

It seems  since 1987 many motorists were prosecuted under s30.

However, the article make it clear that the situation changed dramatically in May 2008 (not January 2012) when parking violations became civil offences, with Civil Enforcement Officers [CEOs] enforcing regulations by issuing Penalty Charge Notices [PCNs].

Unfortunately, the terms of s30 were not transferred at the same so, despite the comments of both Tony Hogg and Cllr Percy Prowse, CEOs currently cannot issue PCNs for pavement parking.

This might come as a surprise to many who believe that pavement parking is against the Highway Code.

Rule 244 of the Highway Code states:
You MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it. Parking on the pavement can obstruct and seriously inconvenience pedestrians, people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments and people with prams or pushchairs. Law GL(GP)A sect 15

So rule 244 needs a little decoding by looking at those two phrases – MUST NOT and should not.

Many of the rules in The Highway Code are legal requirements, and if you disobey these rules you are committing a criminal offence. You may be fined, given penalty points on your licence or be disqualified from driving. In the most serious cases you may be sent to prison. Such rules are identified by the use of the words ‘MUST/MUST NOT’. In addition, the rule includes an abbreviated reference to the legislation which creates the offence.

Although failure to comply with the other rules of The Highway Code will not, in itself, cause a person to be prosecuted, The Highway Code may be used in evidence in any court proceedings under the Traffic Acts (see The road user and the law) to establish liability. This includes rules which use advisory wording such as ‘should/should not’ or ‘do/do not’.

So parking on the pavement in Exeter is NOT illegal in itself.

However, my research has revealed that there TWO regulations that could result in fines. It is illegal to drive a vehicle on the footway (Highways Act 1835 s72) and to cause an obstruction (Highways Act 1980 s137). Both the latter carry fines (Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, s51 and schedule 3).

However, it is difficult to enforce and prove guilt in these cases. Despite the obvious inference that a parked vehicle has been driven on the footway prior to being parked there, witnesses to the driving may be needed to secure a prosecution.

Similarly the offence of obstruction of the highway is difficult to prove, particularly if police claim that it is possible to negotiate the obstacle whilst remaining within the boundaries of the highway – even if this means a diversion for pedestrians off the pavement. Despite this reluctance of the police to prosecute, there is a good deal of case law on the general issue of ‘obstruction’ and ‘unnecessary obstruction’.

Back in 2009, The Department for Transport  stated that:
“There is currently no national legislation banning the parking of all vehicles on the pavement, due to the wide range of circumstances and locations where pavement parking occurs. For example in some narrow residential roads with a lack of off-street parking provision, drivers have little option but to park on the pavement to avoid causing traffic hazards.

“The Government has no plans at present to introduce new legislation specifically aimed at banning pavement parking on a national scale.”

During the 2014-15 Parliament, two Private Members Bills sought to address the issue: one by Mark Lazarowicz MP [LAB/Co-op], Edinbburgh North and Leith] to devolve powers to introduce a pavement parking ban to the Scottish Government; and one by Martin Horwood MP [LD, Cheltenham] to introduce a blanket pavement parking ban in England and Wales.

Mark Lazarowicz’s Responsible Parking (Scotland) Bill 2014-15 was instigated by problems Scottish MSPs have had introducing their own legislation in this area – such Sandra White MSP [SNP, Glasgow Kelvin] had proposed in her Responsible Parking (Scotland) Bill. Mark’s Bill received Second Reading in the House of Commons in September 2014, but was adjourned and then withdrawn

Martin Horwood’s Pavement Parking Bill 2014-15  was due to receive Second Reading, first in September 2014, then in January 2015 and finally in March 2015, but the Bill will make no further progress following the dissolution of Parliament on 30 March 2015.

In summary, pavement parking is anti-social, can be illegal and both the highway authority (usually the County Council) and the police can and should take action in many circumstances. I would like to see drivers being issued with a penalty charge notice (PCN) if they obstruct a dropped kerb or block a pavement.

I appreciate there may need to be exceptions to this ban as where the road layout might require vehicles to park on part of the pavement, whilemaintaining space for all pedestrians to pass. Local Authorities should be able to make exemptions based on local circumstances. However, I believe that such exemptions should be the exception and each such exemption requires adequate justification.

Diagram P667.2 from The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions [TSRGD] 2002
Diagram P667.2 from The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions [TSRGD] 2002
Further reading:
Highways Act 1835 s72
If any person shall wilfully ride upon any footpath or causeway by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot passengers; or shall wilfully lead or drive any horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description, or any truck or sledge, upon any such footpath or causeway; or shall tether any horse, ass, mule, swine, or cattle, on any highway, so as to suffer or permit the tethered animal to be thereon;

House of Commons Standard Note SN1172: Parking – pavement and on-street [17 November 2014]
Download  HERE

Department of Transport discussion paper, Pavement Parking – Curbing an Abuse [December 1986]